Ask A Teacher: Look, Appear and Seem

2018-09-08

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1
  • Welcome to Ask a Teacher -​ a new program where readers ask questions and teachers answer them.
  • 2
  • Have you noticed that English is full of words that have similar meanings?
  • 3
  • In today's Ask a Teacher, Mika from Japan asks how to decide among three verbs that all mean "give an idea about something."
  • 4
  • Here is her question:
  • 5
  • I don't understand the difference between "look," "appear" and "seem."
  • 6
  • If I say, "His new haircut makes him appear younger," is it correct?
  • 7
  • Hello Mika and thanks for your question!
  • 8
  • You can use "appear" in that situation, but the better verb would be "look."
  • 9
  • Let me give you the reasons why.
  • 10
  • We use both the verbs "look" and "appear" to talk about a condition we have observed.
  • 11
  • In your sentence, you can see with your eyes how stylish the man's new haircut is.
  • 12
  • You also see that it gives his face a more youthful shape.
  • 13
  • But "look" is more informal than the verb "appear."
  • 14
  • Your sentence sounded informal, as if you were talking to a friend.
  • 15
  • In contrast, you might see the word "appear" in writing, or hear it in formal speech, such as an official news report.
  • 16</